Posted: December 11 2020
Until earlier this month Heidi Sandoz was Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust’s Tissue Viability Services Lead, having first qualified as a nurse in 1987. She joined the Trust in 2016 but has worked across the county with other NHS organisations for twenty eight years. Her passion has always been tissue viability, caring for predominantly elderly, frail patients with pressure ulcers and chronic wound care.
Heidi had recently been invited to join a regular staff team meeting at the Trust’s headquarters in Welwyn Garden City. She suspected colleagues may have wanted to wish her well on her forthcoming retirement. The meeting was also attended by many staff virtually, but at one point the Chief Executive Elliot Howard-Jones paused proceedings to admit a VIP guest. It was NHS England and NHS Improvement’s Chief Nursing Officer for England, Ruth May who had taken time out of her busy schedule combatting the pandemic, to recognise Heidi’s lifetime nursing achievements, specifically around her contribution in the field of tissue viability. Ruth honoured her with a highly sought-after, gold Chief Nursing Officer Award, developed to reward the significant and outstanding contribution made by nurses in England to their profession.
Sarah Browne HCT’s Director of Nursing and Quality said: “I am thrilled that Heidi has been honoured with this prestigious award. She is an exceptional clinician, demonstrating an unwavering passion for the continuous improvement of tissue viability services locally, across the local Integrated Care System and nationally. She is hugely supportive of her colleagues and works in a flexible, responsive and creative manner to deliver improvements and provide support for clinicians across the organisation. Heidi has also taken an active role at a national level sharing her expertise and drive to improve outcomes for patients. Heidi is pivotal to our drive to eradicate pressure ulceration. She demonstrates leadership, resilience and determination to make a difference to patients.”
Some other notable areas of her work outside HCT include:
• Past Chair and trustee of the Tissue Viability Society
• Previous role in the NHSI Stop The Pressure Steering group
• Current member of the NHSI/E National Strategy chronic wound care strategy programme’s Complex Surgical Wound Steering Group
• Honorary Fellow at University of Hertfordshire (UH)
• A published author having written or contributed to numerous articles
During her presentation Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for NHS England and NHS Improvement said: ”I wanted to say a huge thank you for your leadership in tissue viability - a subject close to my heart. Your track record is hugely credible and you are a respected clinical leader and expert in your field, which also includes conditions such as wound care and leg ulcers.
You‘re regarded as one of the country’s most experienced and expert, tissue viability leads. I have really appreciated your enormous credibility as a leader in this field of our profession and your accomplishments will be seen as a true legacy for nursing. Thank you for everything that you’ve done!”
Ruth was joined in the virtual presentation by Jacqui Fletcher OBE (for services to Wound Care Management) who is also a Senior Clinical Advisor at NHS England and NHS Improvement.
Heidi said:” I first became interested in pressure ulcer prevention when I qualified in 1987 after reading a Nursing Times article by Denis Anthony called “Are you in the dark?”. This set me off on a path of quality improvement and staff education. My passion for wound care and pressure ulcer prevention was set. As I moved through my career, mainly orthopaedics, I was able to improve pressure ulcer prevention and wound management practice on every ward I worked on. In 1992 I moved to Hertfordshire and started working at the Lister Hospital. By 2002 after having given birth to three sons, I was able to develop a business case and start the first tissue viability service at East and North Herts NHS Trust, along with my line manager, mentor and friend Dianne Brett, who we sadly lost in 2018 to cancer. In 2005 I was awarded a first class honours degree in tissue viability from UH. This is where I met my other great mentor and friend Jacqui Fletcher. My relationship with the university has continued over the years as I am still an honorary fellow there supporting the education of pre and post-registered students.”
“The Chief Nursing Officer Gold Award for lifetime achievement that I have received today was an extremely proud and humbling moment for me. Coming just before my semi-retirement was the most amazing highlight of my career. Ruth’s words to me made me very emotional – a surprise I could only just hear over my pounding heart! Having Jacqui also present was very special for me. Dianne Brett, I also share this award with you, wherever you are!”
Heidi strongly recommends a career in nursing to those currently considering their university degree options adding: “Thirty six years in nursing has been an exceptionally interesting life journey. I have had the privilege to sit and hold the hand of patients whilst they have died, to have supported their families through happy and sad times, to be welcomed into their homes to help heal their wounds and meet so many different people from so many different backgrounds. Nursing is a privilege and a roller coaster ride. There have been many tough days during my career but those aren’t the days I remember. I look back on the fun, the laughs and the tears. I remember the difference I have made to so many people, both patients and staff.”
Heidi isn’t going very far, as she will be returning to HCT on a part-time basis in January 2021.
Each CNO gold award recipient will be encouraged to become a Nursing Ambassador, a role that involves taking every opportunity to raise the profile of the nursing profession both in the public arena and within the workplace.
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